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Repitition, Repitition, Repitition

The importance of doing skills over and over.


Does it sometimes seem like watching your child’s gymnastics class is a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day, starring… you? Like they only work on the same skills, never seeming to learn any new exciting or more challenging skills? Has the thought crossed your mind that, perhaps the teacher must not know how to teach because they have been working on cartwheels for months and never anything harder?
These can be incredibly frustrating thoughts and hard to watch and especially hard to pay for. As difficult as this may be, if your child is happy, it is worth sticking it out! There are so many reasons why repetition of skills is important. Gymnastics is based on repetition and progression. While it may be really fun for a gymnast to learn and work on new skills that are more difficult, if they don’t have the basics down, they will not be able to perform the advanced skills correctly or safely.
In beginner classes, they focus on the basic gymnastics skills; stretching, somersaults, handstands, cartwheels, etc. These skills are the foundation for every other skill in gymnastics, whether it be on vault, bars, beam or floor. It is so crucial for every gymnast to know how to do these skills really well, with the proper technique and form. A good instructor will have different and creative ways to teach and practice the same skills to keep the students interested and excited until they have the skill perfectly. At that point, the teacher will start introducing the progression of the skills. The cartwheel progression might look like this over time
1) Donkey kick
2) Cartwheel hop over a mat
3) Cartwheel down a wedge mat
4) Cartwheel on a line
5) One handed cartwheel
6) Dive Cartwheel
7) Aerial
There is no set timeline on how long it may take a child to be ready to move on to more difficult skills or even a more advanced class. Every child is different and so many things play a role in the development of skills. The best way to help your child progress is to encourage them! Telling them they are doing great and that you noticed that they improved a skill will motivate him or her.  Other ways to help your child improve at gymnastics are to make sure they attend class every week. Have them stretch at home. Encourage them to practice simple and safe skills at home or in the yard. They can use the sidewalk curb to practice walking on the beam. They can practice cartwheels in the park. Leap over a puddle. If you do not feel comfortable supervising the basic skills, ask their teacher for pointers and what they can do at home. Other ways to help your gymnast are to take them to Open Gyms (most gyms have open gym time scheduled) or even private lessons. The more a gymnast practices, the stronger they will become and the faster they will advance which keeps it exciting and challenging for them!

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